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Re: "plumed" serpents

Ralph Miller wrote:

>Back to the original question, I, personally, don't see much reason to
>assume that "feathered dinosaur" fossils gave rise to any "feathered"
>dragon myths.  Cave bear skulls giving rise to legends of dragons in
>Medieval Europe I can see; fossil elephant skulls prompting stories of
>cyclops among the ancient Greeks, yes; and _Protoceratops_ fossils in the
>Gobi leading people to believe in the griffin (as postulated in John R.
>Horner's _Dinosaur Lives_), perhaps, but these fossils are all relatively
>plentiful. [clipped]

It's an intriguing speculation, but on pretty shaky ground. It doesn't take
too many generations of legend-tellers to distort descriptions beyond
recognition. A good fossil pterosaur certainly could have fathered a lot of
legends, too. According to Barthel, Swinburne, and Conway Morris's
SOLNHOFEN: A Study in Mesozoic Palaeontology, Solnhofen-like limestones are
found in late Stone Age Caves, and were used by the Romans and later

It would be interesting to see if any medieval catalogs of wonders listed
any stone "dragons" or similar beasts. I suspect they don't, because
generations of curiousity seekers have trawled through them, but it's
possible that the original accounts were never preserved, or have not been
recognized. It's surprising what archaeo-astronomers have come up with on
ancient comet observations.
-- Jeff Hecht